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Pruning Prunus laurocerasus (Common laurel)

These shrubs are often seen in gardens.  They are ideal for screening.  They grow very quickly so it is necessary to prune them frequently so that their size is kept in check.  

Use secateurs to prune.  These plants are a large leaved shrubs so they should be pruned with secateurs.  This avoids leaves being cut.  If a hedge trimmer is used large leaves invariably get cut and die.  Cut leaves are unattractive and dying leaves are even more unattractive so we should not use a hedge trimmer when pruning these shrubs.    

Cut the hedge so that it is wider at the bottom than at the top.  This ensures that lower branches are exposed to a sufficient amount of sunlight.  In addition it avoids large quantities of snow collecting at the top of the hedge.  Large quantities of snow can potentially break branches.

Cut just above a node when pruning to give the hedge the opportunity to rejuvenate itself.  Trim the hedge back, but do not cut into the wood as doing this will make the hedge look messy.  

Suggested Pruning Schedule 

Cut in late March after the first flush of growth.  Create a dense, compact shape.  Cutting at this time avoids frost damage because the threat of frost has generally passed in late March.  In addition birds do not generally nest at this time of year so this is an ideal month to trim in.  We must ensure that we prune lightly so as to avoid bare patches.

Cut again in July to sustain the compact formal shape we desire.  Birds have generally fled the nest by this time. 

Cut again in Mid August.  We must not cut the hedge after this time because the subsequent lack of growth, in September, could lead to our hedge sustaining bare patches throughout the autumn and winter.  

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